RISE OF THE DIEBOLD VOTING MACHINES
By David Phillips
September 27, 2003
In case you havent heard,
Electronic Voting Machines made by Diebold, will be used almost exclusively all across the United States. After the Punch
Card Fiasco in Florida, for the Bush Gore 2000 Presidential Election, Congress passed a bill authorizing money for all States
to convert, from outdated voting machines to the New Electronic Voting Machines, from Diebold Inc., and two other major competing
Now one would think that
with the technology available today, that this would make a lot of sense.
But what if the CEO of Diebold
Inc. had other plans. What if the Software was vulnerable to hackers, or what if someone might want to change some votes.
THE FIRST STATEWIDE TEST: GEORGIA 2002 ELECTIONS
The Diebold paperless touch-screen voting system was first deployed on
a statewide basis in Georgia for the 2002 election. The outcome in Georgia was a stunning and historical upset in which Republican
candidates won both the governors mansion and a seat in the U.S. Senate. The Republican challengers in Georgia had been trailing
the Democratic incumbents in both races by 5 to 11 point margins the week before the race.
Although most Georgians expected incumbent Sen. Max Cleland to win, the
Diebold voting system declared the dark horse Republican candidate Saxby Chambliss the winner. Chambliss won 53 percent of
the vote, according to the Diebold-generated tally. A similar upset occurred in the gubernatorial race in which a Republican
candidate won for the first time in 130 years. The upset in Georgia was of national significance. As Chambliss says on his
web site: With our win on Nov. 5, we returned control of the U.S. Senate to Republicans and gave President Bush the tools
he needs to implement his agenda for America.
O'Dell, CEO of Diebold Inc, has assured all the skeptics that the Software is hacker proof.
"We found some stunning, stunning flaws," said Aviel D. Rubin, technical director of the Information
Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University, who led a team that examined the software from Diebold Election Systems, which
has about 33,000 voting machines operating in the United States.
The experts analysis of a voting machine discovered a host of security
flaws in the software and exposed how the system is virtually wide-open to vote fraud and manipulation of the results. The
Diebold voting system is open to insider attacks at every point of contact on the network, including the voter, and from outsider
attacks on the data as it is transmitted.
The systems, in which voters are given computer-chip-bearing smart cards
to operate the machines, could be tricked by anyone with $100 worth of computer equipment, said Adam Stubblefield, a co-author
of the paper.
"With what we found, practically anyone in the country from a teenager
on up could produce these smart cards that could allow someone to vote as many times as they like," Mr. Stubblefield said.
Because the voting machines communicate in a network, anybody with access
to the data, from the poll worker to a telephone company employee, could manipulate the data and the outcome.
A spokesman for Diebold, Joe Richardson, said that the software examined
in the report was "about a year old" and that "if there were problems with it, the code could have been rectified or changed"
since then. The company, he said, puts its software through rigorous testing.
"We're constantly improving it so the technology we have 10 years from
now will be better than what we have today," Mr. Richardson said. "We're always open to anything that can improve our systems."
Another co-author of the paper, Tadayoshi Kohno, said it was unlikely
that the company had plugged all of the holes they discovered.
"There is no easy fix," Mr. Kohno said.
The list of flaws in the Diebold software is long, according to the paper,
which is online at www.avirubin.com/vote.pdf.
The researchers said ballots could be altered by anyone with access to
a machine, so that a voter might think he is casting a ballot for one candidate while the vote is recorded for an opponent.
OK, they say the Software coding is fixed, and there are no more problems.
Should we believe them?
THE CEO: Mr. Walden ODell
Mr. Walden ODell is the CEO of Diebold Inc., and as we all
know, the CEOs of major corporations in the United States are arguably the people with the highest of integrity, and truthfulness
in business today.
Oh ya, did I mention that Mr. Walden ODell is a Republican?
Mr. Walden ODell, who is vying to sell voting machines in Ohio, told Republicans in a recent fund-raising letter
on Aug 14, 2003, that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to President Bush next year."
O'Dell attended a strategy pow-wow with wealthy
Bush benefactors - known as Rangers and Pioneers - at the president's Crawford, Texas, ranch in August. The next week, he
penned invitations to a $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser to benefit the Ohio Republican Party's federal campaign fund - partially
benefiting Bush - at his mansion in the Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington.
The letter went out the day before Ohio Secretary
of State Ken Blackwell, also a Republican, was set to qualify Diebold as one of three firms eligible to sell upgraded electronic
voting machines to Ohio counties in time for the 2004 election.
"Ordinary Ohioans may infer that Blackwell's
office is looking past Diebold's security issues because its CEO is seeking $10,000 donations for Blackwell's party - donations
that could be made with statewide elected officials right there in the same room," said Senate Democratic Leader Greg DiDonato
THE BOTTOM LINE
Bob Urosevich is the President of Diebold Inc, his brother Todd is a
vice president at a competing company, Omaha-based Election Systems & Software. These two companies count nearly 80
percent of the votes cast in the United States.
The concept is clear, simple,
and it works. Computerized voting gives the power of selection, without fear of discovery, to whomever controls the computer.
James and Kenneth Colliers 1992 book, Vote Scam:
The bottom line is that all of the existing electronic voting machines
are fundamentally flawed, Peter G. Neumann, principal scientist at Stanford Research Institutes Internationals Computer Science
Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, said. The real problem is that the federal election system standards stink. They allow
totally insecure voting systems to be certified.
Electronic voting, the report concluded, with its inherent risks, places
our very democracy at risk.
The only known solution to this problem is to introduce a voter-verifiable
audit trail, the report says, in which the tally of the paper ballots takes precedence over any electronic tallies.
Remember all those jokes out of Florida about
paper ballots, and hanging chads in the 2000 Presidential election, not so funny anymore, are they?